S.H.I.E.L.D. lacks luster

The premier episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lacks luster despite direction by Joss Whedon. With Whedon at the helm you’d expect crisp, funny dialogue and engaging characters, and S.H.I.E.L.D. just has none of this, at least in the first episode.

Set in post-Avengers battle of New York, the show features agent Phil Coulson  (Clark Gregg) assembling a team of agents to investigate Rising Tide, whose worst threat seems to be exposing The Avengers or least The Hulk—the superhero team doesn’t appear in the show, except in brief references. In the meantime the team also encounters Mike Peterson (J. August Richards), an ordinary factory worker down on his luck who happens to have acquired superpowers through some dealings with an apparent nefarious group of scientists.

In the climatic scene of the first episode Coulson confronts Peterson in order to recruit him after Peterson rampages through a building. Peterson bloviates about the Man keeping him down and then one of the agents snipes him, knocks him out, and he is, thus, recruited into the super-secret organization that floats about in a giant helicarrier that no one seems to see.

So far, the show is working on comic-book narrative logic, and I wonder if that is enough, even with Whedon’s help to make it, especially when S.H.I.E.L.D lacks its master Nick Fury. Maybe future episodes will develop the narrative stronger. Or maybe it will get yanked like Firefly before it gets a chance to take off.

The show airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. (CDT) on ABC.